Governor further amends social distancing directives

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Monday further amended his public health emergency executive order to enhance social distancing practices.

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, the governor is now restricting gatherings of 10 people or more in a single room or single space. The original declaration applied to 50 people or more.

This directive now reads: “Gatherings of more than 10 people in a single room or single space are prohibited at the same time for social, spiritual, and recreational activities, including but not limited to, community, civic, public leisure, faith-based, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, fiestas, conventions, fundraisers, and similar activities are prohibited throughout the CNMI. Persons should practice social distancing at all times.”

The governor also announced that “all businesses that have facilities open to the general public shall only be open to the public from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Outside of those hours businesses may operate, but may not be open to the general public. Businesses may not conduct drop-off/pick-up or delivery service during the curfew hours [of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.].”

Businesses engaged in gaming —casino, video poker establishments, and e-gaming facilities — are included within these restricted hours, the governor stated.

He added that the purpose of the previously mandated store hours — 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. — “was to decrease the amount of points of interaction and contact the population would have with each other. The overall results have been satisfactory in achieving its goal.”

However, upon consultations with his government team and members of the public, the governor stated that he believes that “expanding store hours will help ease any congestion and enhance social distancing.”

In addition, “the CNMI government now has the resources to better enforce social distancing requirements,” he said.

Governor Torres’ executive order was first issued on March 19, 2020, but he stated that it would be an evolving document, as this virus is novel and progressing, and certain amendments would potentially need to be made. Several amendments have been made since its inception.

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